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Rosenbaum, R. (2011). Exploring the other Dark Continent: Parallels between Psi Phenomena and the Psychotherapeutic Process. Psychoanal. Rev., 98(1):57-90.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Review, 98(1):57-90

Exploring the other Dark Continent: Parallels between Psi Phenomena and the Psychotherapeutic Process

Ruth Rosenbaum, Ph.D.

In scientific investigation it is often the study of the anomalous, the atypical, that points the way to the discovery of deeper truths.

—Esther Menaker

This paper will explore the relevance of the subject of psi phenomena to important topics in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, such as intersubjectivity, projective identification, and the integration of primary and secondary process experience. “Psi” is a general term referring to kinds of information transfer or communication that exceed common understanding of how such communication takes place. Psi includes telepathy (mind-to-mind communication), clairvoyance (environment-to-mind communication), and psychokinesis (the capacity to influence a physical system or move an object in the absence of any known physical means of doing so).

Psi has, for the most part, been shunned as a serious topic of psychoanalytic inquiry. Upon closer examination, however, it appears to share common ground with aspects of the therapeutic bond, transference and countertransference, the intersubjective field, and integration of conscious and unconscious processes. In fact, at this critical point in the history of psychoanalysis, when the field is attempting to validate its techniques and process through evidence-based research, the search for scientific validation of psi phenomena may actually have outpaced the search for such validation of psychoanalysis. Scientific studies of psi phenomena, some of which are described here, can help to elucidate some of the more uncanny aspects of therapeutic action.

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